What the press says about Intel North Cape

Posted on Dec 11, 2013 in Industrial Design, Media

131211 Intel North Cape Press
Intel’s “North Cape” detachable tablet reference design had been introduced at CES in January of 2013 and it did garner quite some buzz…

Different media outlets focused on different aspects of North Cape, and I wanted to take a moment to review what the press had to say about the product over the past few months:

Laptop Mag talked about the fact that this is a reference design and expressed their hope that the product would make it to market:

As a reference design, North Cape is meant to inspire OEMs rather than become a shipping product, though Intel said that it’s possible one will adopt this design. We hope they’ll take the hint.

Mashable was certainly excited about seeing the prototype at CES in Las Vegas:

Intel Shows the Awesome Laptop You’ll Be Using Next Year

The Verge clearly saw the value that North Cape’s Smart Frame adds to the product:

Smart Frame sounds like a gimmick, but when you see how narrow the bezel is around North Cape’s screen, you can understand why people might want some more free space for their thumbs.

Laptop focused mainly on the aesthetics of the product… and it sure sounds as if they liked what they saw:

A system that reminded us of a spaceship from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’

I am working on… the best “project” of my life!

Posted on Oct 24, 2013 in Career, Working on

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After my sabbaticals in China in 2005 and India in 2011, I have this week started an entirely different kind of extended leave of absence: My son Maximilian was born a few months ago and now that my wife’s parents have left town after helping us through the first tough weeks, I am beginning my 12-week-long parental leave…

While it in fact feels a bit more like a parental stay, I am enjoying it tremendously and am grateful for the fact that this is part of Artefact’s benefits package… thank you Rob and Gavin for making this possible!

Seattle Tour Guide

Posted on Aug 8, 2013 in Opinion, Travel

130808-01 Seattle Waterfront
After my very successful guides for first-time travelers to Frankfurt and Taipei, it is about time to write one up for my new home in the “Northbest”: I am enjoying this city, its beautiful hinterland and the Washington coastline tremendously and have rather frequently been showing friends and family around – so I thought I’d share some of my Seattle favorites here:

Sightseeing

Seattle Center and Sculpture Park


An absolute must for the first-time visitor to Seattle is obviously the Space Needle at “Seattle Center” – the site of the 1962 World’s Fair. If you happen to be in downtown, take the Monorail to go there and if you’re at the Center, there’s lots to do besides climbing the Space Needle. On rainy days, you can visit the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum, or the Pacific Science Center, or catch a show at Seattle Children’s Theatre or Pacific Northwest Ballet or the 3D IMAX Theater. If you have time and the weather is nice, take a walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park by the waterfront.

Downtown, Waterfront, Kerry Park

Pike Place Market is probably the second most popular tourist destination in Seattle, followed closely by the Seattle Underground Tour that gives hilarious peeks into the Northwest’s adventurous and hysterical pioneer days. If you’re in downtown, make sure to visit the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library and take the time to visit little Kerry Park in Seattle’s Queen Anne district. It is located above “Seattle Center” and offers spectacular views on the Needle, downtown, Mt. Rainier and Puget Sound – this scenery is exceptionally beautiful in the afternoon light of of a sunny day.
If you’re up there already, make sure to walk to the equally small Marshall Park a few blocks west of Kerry Park to catch some stunning views of Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Pensinsula. Don’t miss the tiny, but romantic Parsons Garden on your way.

More City Parks

Volunteer Park is located on Capitol Hill and offers great views to Downtown and Puget Sound, especially from the water tower that is located at its south corner – in the adjacent Lake View Cemetery, you can find Bruce Lee‘s gravesite. To get a different view onto downtown, check out Gas Works Park.
If you want to “get out of town without actually getting out of town“, Discovery Park’s 534 acres of nature invite to more extensive walks or hikes along the shores of Puget Sound, all within the city limits of Seattle. On your way back into town, you can stop by Ballard Locks and check out the salmon ladder there – both Discovery Park and the locks are best visited on sunny afternoons.
Do you happen to be in Seattle in the spring? Go and see the cherry blossoms in bloom at the intersection of King Lane & Pierce Lane on the University of Washington campus.
Here in the summer? Go kayaking on Lake Union and through the Arboretum and reward yourself with some hearty Mexican food at Agua Verde or take a dip in Lake Washington at Madison Park Beach.

Museums
Seattle offers a pretty decent selection of museums: Seattle Art MuseumFrye Art MuseumSeattle Asian Art MuseumBurke Museum of Natural History and CultureMuseum of Flight, or Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Entrance to all of these museums is free in the evening of the first Thursday of every month.
Not really a museum, but very interesting nonetheless is the Boeing Factory tour about 45 minutes north of Seattle in Everett.
Here’s a Google Map with all of the above sights…

Wining and Dining

Seattle offers a vast variety of restaurants. Among my favorite Northwest/seafood places to eat are Ivar’s Salmon House and Ray’s Boathouse – they offer great views of Lake Union and Puget Sound, respectively. Other seafood alternatives are Coastal Kitchen, with a regularly changing coastal region inspiring their cuisine, or The Walrus and The Carpenter, if you happen to be into oysters.
To get your Asian food fix, visit Shiro’s for the most authentic Sushi in town or Nishino that rivals Shiro’s in quality, but feels a bit more “westernized”. And since we’re talking about Asian food already, if you love Taiwanese cuisine like I do, you’ll want to go to Din Tai Fung, Facing East or Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen.
While I am not a vegetarian, I love Café Flora’s food and cannot but recommend Harvest Vine‘s spanish tapas for both brunch and dinner.
Coffee shops, you ask…? There are too many to mention… the ones that I like most are Java Bean, Volunteer Park Café, Wheelhouse Coffee, Bauhaus, and Espresso Vivace.

Live Music

I am not the avid concert-goer I once was, yet I occasionally still enjoy a show at Neumos or the Tractor Tavern

Shopping

Being the biggest “shopping grump” that I know, I am probably not the best person to ask for advice here, but let me try:
While Downtown, Northgate and University Village host the usual chains, Fremont and Ballard offer quite a few smaller boutiques that carry locally made products…  and if you happen to be there, why not plan to visit on a Sunday to join the fun Fremont and Ballard farmer’s markets or dine in one of the many restaurants there.
If you are into binge-shopping, you could drive 40 minutes north for a shopping spree in the gigantic Seattle Premium Outlets…?

Hiking and Skiing

As I have said in my intro, the great outdoors in the “Northbest” are truly amazing! If you visit in the winter, go skiing, tubing or snowshoeing on Snoqualmie PassStevens Pass, or on Crystal Mountain.
And if you happen to be here in the summer, why not go on one of the over 3,000 hikes that the Washington Trails Association‘s has listed? Ask me for some tips…

An evening project

Posted on Jul 14, 2013 in Industrial Design, Research

Well… here’s a design project that – at least in my eyes – does not really qualify to be shown off in this website’s Portfolio section… still, I wanted to share it and so it ended up here on the blog: a 3D-printed iPhone car holder.

With the recent updates to the iOS Maps and Google Maps Applications I found my iPhone 5 replacing my trusted Garmin nüvi inside my car. Unless I have been going on a remote hike where no cellphone network was available, the iPhone’s connectivity, speed, and its speech interface often made it the navigator of my choice. The only problem was, that I never knew where to put it while driving, unless I bothered my co-pilot to hold the phone for me. So I decided that it was time to buy a car holder for my shiny iPhone 5. My two criteria were pretty straight-forward:

  • I wanted a simple device that would visually not be overly distracting, one without too many mechanical features that could break
  • The holder should mount without a suction cup (so it’d not leave traces on the windshield) and preferably be fixed, using my car’s dashboard vents.

An extensive online search yielded no results, probably due to the fact that phone holders typically have to fit a wide variety of cars, phones, and mounting scenarios, where what I wanted was a very specific solution on all three fronts. And since we just received our little Solidoodle 3D printer at Artefact, I thought, I’d do something with it and design an iPhone 5 holder specifically for my 2008 GTI.

After two failed prototypes, I found the perfect mix between stability and simplicity and had fine-tuned the viewing angle of my design. It slides easily into the dashboard vents and a hook prevents it from falling out. I opted to add five pieces of 0.5mm thick fabric (shown in red in one of the above illustrations) to protect my precious phone from scratching.

I have been using the holder for a few months now and really like it, so I thought I’d share it here as well as on Thingiverse.

For printing on our little Solidoodle, I broke the product into four parts and the files contain 3D data both of the Solidoodle-version, as well as of the complete object – maybe you can find a better way to deconstruct and print it…? Feel free to share and/or to modify the design and let me know what you think!

iPhone 5 Car Holder 2008 Volkswagen GTI

I am working on… making homes a little greener.

Posted on Jul 6, 2013 in Design Strategy, Industrial Design, Working on

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Most of the products, experiences, and strategies that I design are of a somewhat confidential nature. While I thus cannot go into the details of what exactly it is that I am working on at the moment or which company it is that I am engaging with, I am posting these headlines to give a little glimpse into my work…

I am working on… empowering creators.


Most of the products, experiences, and strategies that I design are of a somewhat confidential nature. While I thus cannot go into the details of what exactly it is that I am working on at the moment or which company it is that I am engaging with, I am posting these headlines to give a little glimpse into my work…

Want to work in the U.S.?

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 in Career


Before you continue down this page, dear reader, I would like to point you to this website’s disclaimer page, and highlight the fact that the following is by no means a replacement for legal advise. Please be mindful that I am but a mere layman of the subject matter that I am discussing here and that the following is only a personal account of my experience immigrating into the United States…

After working in this country for almost five years on an H-1B visa, I have now acquired a Green Card last year. Woot Woot!

Since I am often approached by foreign designers, and sometimes share the story of my immigration with them, I thought it was time to recapitulate the legal process I went through here on this site.
If you are looking to work in the U.S. as a foreign national and don’t have an existing work visa or a green card, there are several ways to acquire a work visa for you. As far as I know, the most common one – which happens to be the route that I took – is the H1B visa. You have to find a prospective employer that is willing to sponsor this process: Beyond the single fact that they offer you a job, they will most likely also help you by providing the services of an immigration attorney, and support the case financially by paying the appropriate visa application fees… in my case, Carbon Design happened to be the sponsor for the H1B visa.

My current employer Artefact has also done this for several designers and I know of other firms – both smaller design offices and larger corporations – that have gone through this process for foreign employees.

There are a few catches, though with the H1B visa application process:
1. Applications can be filed, beginning on April 1st of each year.
2. The U.S. government approves a maximum of 65,000 H1B visas awarded per year. Once this H1B visa cap is reached, no new applications can be filed during that particular year.
3. Visa applications are usually approved after 4-6 months.

In my case, the visa cap for the fiscal year 2008 was reached on the first day of the application process, April 1, 2007. In fact, over 150,000 H1B applications had been filed by midday and a lottery was used to determine whether or not I could work in the U.S. While the H1B visa cap reach date varied greatly over the past decade, to be on the safe side, you should consider to applying early.

My visa had been granted in September of 2007 and I began work in the States on January 3rd of the following year. For this year, a company that is interested in hiring you, can begin the application process in April, and you could only begin to work in the U.S. at some point between August to October. The H1B visa is valid for an initial three years, and extendable to six. After that period is over, you would have to apply for a Green Card if you wanted to continue to work stateside…

Pega* Design Lab still going strong

Posted on Feb 26, 2013 in Education

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About eight years ago, while still working at Asus, I conceived the idea of an International Design Internship Program where we invited two foreign and one Taiwanese student to work together on regular projects and on design studies for the duration of six months.

The goal for Asus was to teach and to learn from young designers and it led to a few interesting outcomes, like the design studies around Green Asus and Asus Power, but also some successful products on the market like the Asus TLL 37 television set.

I had planned the program, then led what I called the “Asus Design Lab” for two years, and prior to leaving the company in late 2007, I trained my successor to continue to work with young international designers at Asus/Pega.

While hardly any of the products that I designed during my time at Asus are still in production, I just found out a few days ago, that the “Asus (now: Pega) Design Lab” proved to be one of the most long-lasting impacts that I have had on the organization. On February 19, Pega Design posted the above ad on Coroflot, looking to fill positions within their International Design Internship Program for the seventh year in a row!

While the bit of the text that introduces Pega Design has obviously changed quite a bit after the company spun off from Asus, I was delighted to see that the part of the ad that described the program’s vision and plan is pretty much verbatim what I had devised eight years ago.

Needless to say that I am very proud that the program is still going strong – 加油,Pega Design!

* Pega Design is a product design consultancy and a subsidiary of Pegatron, the former contract manufacturing department of Asus Computer.

UW IDSA Evening Lectures: Thoughts on 21st Century Design

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 in Education, Speaking


The University of Washington’s Design Department has asked Artefact to give a “mini series” of talks as part of the department’s Evening Lectures. Three weeks ago, it was Research Lead Dave McColgin who introduced the students to Artefact’s concept of “21st Century Design” and this past Wednesday it was my turn to build on top of Dave’s talk with my lecture around what 21st Century means to me as a designer and what kind of impact it can have on design students and recent graduates.

The event was very well attended, and – judging by the fact that most students stayed for about an hour after my talk was over for the Q&A session and some more personal conversations – I take it that my audience enjoyed my presentation as least as much, as I enjoyed it myself.

Postindustrialdesign

Of matchbox cars, wooden toy blocks, and a guiding light for a career

When I was a kid, like most boys, I loved to play with matchbox cars. Unlike most boys, I was not satisfied to simply caper about with the cars; instead I wanted to create roads, and cities, and worlds around them.
Building these worlds out of the square wooden toy blocks that my grandfather – a former carpenter – had made for me, I essentially gave myself “frameworks” to play within.

130103 PID1The only two remaining toy blocks from my childhood*.

Unsurprisingly, when I started out as a designer, I was similarly looking to employ a framing structure around my career. Don’t get me wrong, I focused on the essentials of my job, my clients, and the exciting projects I was working on, but at the same time I was looking to identify how the design profession would develop in order to define and hone a vision for my career.

The many metamorphoses of design

There are some constants to the design profession – think: problem solving, prototyping or aesthetic sensibilities. Yet, the skills to create technical drawings for example, that I acquired in university were obsolete by the time I started my first job and terms like “user experience”, or “design thinking” did not play a major role until a few years into my career: The design craft has always been in a state of flux and will likely continue on this trajectory.
While both the “why” behind the profession and pragmatic definitions of the trade, have become table stakes for the designer these days, I have come to believe that four aspects will be of great importance for the design profession in the future.

130103 PIDCapacity – Responsibility – Process – Content: The four aspects of Postindustrialdesign (PID)

And as I was pondering, reading, and writing, about these facets, I started seeing my work as postindustrialdesign**, an expression that had been defined some 30-odd years ago, and that is yet as contemporary and aspirational today as it was in the 1980s.

“The coming of post-industrial design”

The term was first coined by Nigel Cross in his paper on the progress of design methods. In it, Cross suggests a future for the development of design methods, that is informed by the concept of post-industrialism, and that will see design develop its own methods, rather than refining processes that had been borrowed from the field of science at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Cross argues that in a post-industrial society, production of goods is resource-conserving and quality-focused, he believes that design tools will be superior, yet simpler, and cheaper than its predecessors, and that the use of such tools will allow for new processes to emerge.

“My brand” of Postindustrialdesign

Cross’s theories resonate with me and I find his foresight astonishing: eco-friendly industrial design has still not been fully embraced, tools like computers, software, or 3D printers, have become accessible to everyone and the ‘maker culture’ does indeed have an impact on the product development process and the role of the designer in it.
In the future, Postindustrialdesign will see Cross’s framework extended from “product–tools–process” into the one that I mentioned earlier. So here goes:

Capacity

Nigel Cross put forth an accurate vision about the forthcoming era of industrial design. In the 30 years that have passed since publishing his paper, the profession would be democratized through tools that were cheaper and freer than the ones previously used; mostly due to the development of targeted software.
The role of the designer is largely dependent on his tools, and these tools are not only growing in number, and complexity, but do also impact both process and outcome of our work.

130714 iPhone Holder 8 PrintingNot unexpectedly rapid prototyping is one of the postindustrialdesigner’s newer capacities. More and more of his tools will be borrowed from neighboring fields such as business and science.

Given our trajectory in this regard it is to be expected that the postindustrialdesigner’s toolkit will include not only sophisticated software, but also an ever-growing set of prototyping methods, among them such techniques as 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC machining.
The postindustrialdesigner will be able to use these tools not only to improve on the design process, but they will also be able to transpose the utilization of such tools to their final output – in the case of rapid prototyping, this could mean that postindustrial products are also “rapidly manufactured”.

Process

While large producers of goods will still dominate the marketplace in the foreseeable future, the aforementioned tools like crowd-funding will allow for small organizations to develop specialized products on a smaller scale, essentially dismembering large bureaucratic structures in some cases.
On a parallel path to the traditional product development process, an adaptable design process will ripen within these smaller entities. This new process will go from being autocratic to being democratic, from exclusive to inclusive and from rigid to to more flexible.
In his 2005 I.D. Magazine article “A Manifesto for Postindustrial Design”, Jamer Hunt draws inspiration from the open-source mode of software creation and wants to transfer the process to the development of physical products. In the eight years since, open source product development efforts from the likes of Bug Labs and crowd-funding websites such as kickstarter.com or indiegogo.com have proven that there is both the need and the space for such a parallel path to product design.

130103 LunatikWhat used to happen behind closed doors is taken out into the open by the postindustrialdesigner: Scott Wilson shares the prototyping process of LunaTik on Kickstarter.

While I do not anticipate a new product development process to replace the traditional methods overnight, the postindustrialdesigner will leave the romantic “genius-in-a-tower” image behind at times and will go from being creative to being collaborative and from being professional to being participatory, in order to meet new needs.
The postindustrialdesigner won’t think of the two processes as mutually exclusive: he might jump between them or even imagine a design-led and “crowd-funded” product development effort within the confines of a larger organization.

Content

Both Berg’s Jack Schulze and Kicker’s Dan Saffer in their respective blog posts “The Ghost in the Field” and “Post-Industrial Design” write about the designer’s new raw materials:

Where once industrial design was concerned with radii, form, and finish, we now deal in behaviours, experience, shifting context, and time.
– Jack Schulze

More than anything, it seems that post-industrial design is both a way of working and a way of thinking about products. It’s a way of working in that it considers the interactive behavior a product should engender before considering its physical form.
– Dan Saffer

Panasonic FlightPath 1While user interface design is not part of the industrial designer’s vocabulary, the postindustrialdesigner is well-versed in this domain.

While I challenge Saffer regarding his assessment that postindustrialdesign sure has “arrived by now”, I cannot but agree with Schulze’s and Saffer’s assertion that the interactive behavior of an object must be an integral part of modern day design.
Beyond that, the postindustrialdesigner will also be involved in the creation of business and design strategies, and the services that frame the physical product and its interaction.

Responsibility

In terms of the designer’s responsibility in the product development process, Cross’s paper is mainly concerned with the scarcity of resources in a post-industrial society. He argues that products move from specialized to generalized, from mass-produced to short-run, and from short-lived to long-lived, all with a focus on quality, so as to conserve resources.

111108-7The postindustrialdesigner’s most lofty goal: saving the world.

And while this ideal certainly makes even more sense now than it did 30 years ago, there are also political, and sociological aspects that need to be considered. With the content of his work shifting from the mere creation of physical objects to the design of related interactions, strategies, and services, the postindustrialdesigner is concerned with the shaping of behavior for a preferable future – read more on this topic of “21st Century Design” on artefactgroup.com.

So, what does this all mean?

Being a postindustrialdesigner, I am using the above framework not only to make career decisions, but also to inspire and to guide my day-to-day work.
The beauty of those square wooden toy blocks my grandfather gave me as a kid was that they could always be rearranged, and that I could add and subtract bricks as I desired.

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So, along the way – as my thoughts and opinions become more refined – I reserve the right to adapt my framework to new developments in industry and society and who knows, one day I might migrate this entire website to its new domain postpostindustrialdesigner.com.

 

* After we stopped playing with them, my grandpa used the wooden blocks for some of his tinkering and home improvement projects, thus there are now some drill holes and notes on them…
** Yes, I do spell that as one word.